Change can be painful but Oracle is actively and continuously changing, making software development simpler and more powerful both in the cloud and on-premises, Franco Ucci says. Ucci spoke exclusively to iTWire about the new ways the vast database and enterprise applications vendor is engaging with software developers.
Ucci opened our discussion by sharing his personal story about how prior to joining Oracle he had five jobs in seven years. A manager told him he was idealistic, impatient, and thinks about things in “too much of a pure manner.” The manager advised a young Franco Ucci, “not everybody sees what you see. It’s important you socialise what you see as you go on your journey, and get feedback, otherwise, you’ll be frustrated.”
The advice must have been sound; Ucci has now enjoyed various roles at Oracle for 32 years and is currently Developer Lead in Australia and Senior Director, Cloud Platform Strategy. He sees regular, open, and transparent engagement with software developers as critical to success. Based on iTWire’s wide-ranging discussion, Ucci enjoys speaking about all the things Oracle is doing.
"Oracle values data and its importance," Ucci said, "and hence spent a lot of time democratising data with privacy, consent, and security.”
"It's really hard to practice those things," he said but notes Oracle is an on-premises and cloud vendor where it does not see what you are doing with your data. “We’re one of the only vendors out there who totally respects that and drives that capability.”
Development support and open-source
"Development is getting easier and easier," Ucci said, explaining Oracle has a rich and wide range of development projects with strong support and “massive open source communities.”
60% to 70% of the business is now dealing with open source in some way, he said, from Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) generation two cloud-native products all the way through to the smallest on-premises products. While Oracle is known as a large enterprise applications vendor, its products and architecture involve a slew of Kubernetes, Apache, Java, and various flavours of SQL.
The adoption of open-source will continue; "Oracle acknowledges what is mainstream and open to the industry. We can pick that capability up and add Oracle engineering DNA to make it more robust and consumable - enhancing availability, disaster recovery, performance, and scalability, so consumers small or big don't have to spend their own time to make them work,” he said.
Other facilities for developers include Visual Builder, strongly supported by Oracle's SaaS applications. “If you can develop a front-end or mobile app you can work with that,” Ucci said.
Cloud and on-premises - the choice is yours
While conventional wisdom elsewhere is on-premises is fading, with all engineering effort being expended on the cloud. Oracle is, of course, no regular company. “On-premises is getting access to all the cloud engineering outcomes that are available. We got there because of what we’re doing in the cloud space. A lot of that outcome we required to get highly-productive SaaS products out with new capabilities to meet customer demand,” he said, adding the capability isn’t only available in cloud products. “Oracle also makes it available on-premises.”
“As an analogy, we are working out how to use the best cooking capabilities for a variety of restaurants, and everyone gets the benefit,” Ucci said.
According to Ucci, this stems from a sense of urgency and a frenzy of excitement. “How do I get that value into our customer’s hands?” the business asks itself. “We practice DevOps not just for the technology but for a total go-to-market strategy and organisation approach.”
An example is Oracle Analytics built-in machine learning (ML), which delivers insights out of data sets, no matter how small or enormous, out-of-the-box. “You can use this in Oracle Analytics Cloud and Oracle Analytics Server,” he said.
Application Express (APEX)
This is also evidenced in the Oracle database; its user interface and experience are “basically similar” whether consumed on the cloud or on-premises. Such an example is Application Express - a low-code innovation tool - “effectively a browser on the Oracle database,” Ucci says - which allows you to ingest data that might be unstructured, highly structured, or even JSON in nature. Application Express provides insights into what’s happening with the data and provides a way to developing highly responsive mobile apps.
"Application Express capability is available on every database release Oracle has, whether on-premises or on the cloud,” Ucci said. “Its cost is zero. Once you have paid for the Oracle DB you get Application Express everywhere you go.”
"No other vendor will give you that same 'respectful experience' where you have the same capability and value whether you use it on-premises or the cloud,” he said.
Australian Application Express customers include Telstra.
iTWire asked how relevant is on-premises today? The answer is still very much. “Oracle has very clever and astute engineering,” Ucci said. “Oracle created a platform called ExaData, a software and hardware configuration that gives you less moving parts but increases performance and capability for the database. It was initially purely available for on-premises.”
“If I am a DBA in defence or a bank and I use ExaData I pretty much have the best-performing, highly available and best-supported platform on the planet,” he said. “That work continued, and is now available in a number of forms, including ExaData on-premises.”
The autonomous database is a way to experience what's possible with an ExaData platform. “You could say Larry Ellison worked out to make the ExaData platform a SaaS appliance for data management.”
"You could have an ExaData on-premises cloud so you can use the Oracle database behind your firewall as a cloud experience on a pure platform,” Ucci said.
Four years ago an ExaData conversation with Oracle would require you to be a multi-million dollar business, with a nine to 18 months cycle, but the cloud option means “I could be a small Government department and say I don’t know if I want to use ExaData but I can experience the ExaData cloud service for a couple of hours and try it,” he said.
The above barely scratches the surface of areas Oracle is expanding, adapting, and innovating on. “So much is coming out, one of the mechanisms helping drive a frenzy of excitement in Oracle is continually sharing what’s happening in a way it’s not only talking but can actually be experienced,” Ucci said.
Oracle LiveLabs is Oracle's approach to doing this. It was launched only in September 2020 but provides free, simple, and powerful tutorials like building an application out of a spreadsheet for the Oracle Autonomous Cloud Service or migrating WebLogic server to Kubernetes on OCI.
"Within an hour on LiveLabs you can experience Oracle Cloud, the autonomous database, and be building applications you can run on your mobile phone,” Ucci said.
You can view an overview of Oracle ExaData here.